Eulogy for Brian Morden

Brian Johnson
at First Evangelical Lutheran Church
Altoona, Pennsylvania 16601
Saturday, February 22, 2003; 5 PM

Giving a Eulogy for my best friend is a true honor, and the number of mourners gathered here today is a testament to his character. Brian Morden was a truly special person. For the 15 years I knew him, he emitted an unmatchable and enthusiastic zest for life. His unshakable optimism was visible daily through a grin that stretched from ear to ear. It was a sort of visual chivalry. You can't picture Brian Morden without a smile. Seeing his grin made you feel warm inside because you were reminded that true innocence exists. One of his smiles could make a slow morning brighter or a stressful day peaceful because it renewed your sense of hope. Brian Morden simply helped me to see the good in people. There was a lot of good in Brian and he had a lot to smile about. He had a great family, supportive friends, and a happy hearty and wholesome life.

When we got news of Brian's cancer those two long years ago, we were all very concerned. However, because each of us knew Brian as a strong and optimistic person, we knew he would fight, and that the cancer could never take him. We knew his character would not allow defeat. It is impossible for me to guess what was going through Brian's mind as he first got the news. I can tell you he never sought pity, or showed weakness. I never heard a moan or groan; I never heard him openly ask those impossible and unanswerable questions that were surely swimming through his mind, instead, he simply resolved to fight, he wanted to show us his strength. He fought because he knew he had qualities and gifts that he needed to share with people, talents he wanted to use. Brian always wanted to create. Whether it was making music or editing a movie, Brian loved entertaining, because it was the perfect medium for him to share his intriguing imagination. He needed to get better because he had so much to share. With his fight came new places, new people new words: Chemo, radiation, Pittsburgh, neupogen, broviac, platelets, this was his new life. Through this beginning battle, his talents meant much more, his well known battle helped him to reach more people.

One day much later, I got a call from a sniffling Brian. He told me simply "Brian…I relapsed, I am just going to have to fight harder". Relapse was that complicated word none of us wanted to hear. Brian made it very simple. Again, the stone cold resolve to fight harder was evident in his voice; it was an unceasing hope; a trust that God would let Brian do what it was he was meant to do on this earth. Brian was familiar with the concept of clinging to hope in the darkest times. He had worshipped the Tolkein books that revolved around this theme. It was a theme Tolkein hit upon so often in his books because of the tragedy he had in his own life as a World War II soldier. Brian had this hope, and it wasn't just because he read about, it was a genuinely original feeling that stemmed deep inside… because he knew the cancer would never take him, we all did. He still had so much to share with the world.

He fought harder, and we all missed him more and more as his attendance in school was less and less. Each day we would see the empty chair in band, we would be reminded of the important things in life, Brian showed us what they were. The Morden family showed us what it was to be a family; two selfless parents a strengthening brother and a fury stress ball named alie. It is obvious to me the weeks, the months, and the quality of life the Morden family was able to add to Brian's life, to keep the physical and emotional resources replenished on Brian's battlefield. What they accomplished together was amazing.

While this battle raged on, the band would often leave a chair out for Brian, and place a Morden substitute, a trumpet case with a glasses and a button down shirt. It didn't quite take the place of Brian, but it reminded us of his battle, of his strength, and it was something the trumpets could put their arm around when they weren't playing. That's how much he was missed. That's the impact he made on us. That's how much his smiles meant to us. Each trip to Pittsburgh, each Monday back in band, we would see how special Brian really was. His talents of evoking hope, and strength and kindness, and bringing out the best in people. That's what it was he was hear to do. He was an emotional massoose.

That's what he was sharing. He and his family fighting, enabled him to keep on sharing, to touch more lives, whether it was young girl in high school, an internet friend in Australia, or an entire software branch of Microsoft. His fight embodied the human spirit and we all tried to fight along side, to live life better, he showed how to live and why it is so important.

In the later stages of the battle Geo and I would visit Brian as often as we could in the hospital. We would walk in and see that smile again, and it alone was worth the trip. It meant something different though, it illustrated courage. Even after being told he had a few weeks to live, Brian was barely deterred from fighting. When his kidneys began to shut down, Brian's doctors asked him what he wanted to do. Mr.Morden told me Brian felt he still had work to do. The hope remained but the doctors felt that Brian should go home keep hope but stop the fight. Shortly after the Morden's reported that it looked like Brian was taking his last breaths and that he might not be able to live through the night. Brian set a goal then, he wanted to go home and say goodbye to everyone. Somehow, as the toxins poured into the bloodstream, he made it home and rested on his bed while friends and family visited and called. He had done it, he had won. He was still hoping for a miracle but said he accepted God's will. I see his making it home as a miracle in its self. There he passed peacefully into the night as his parents lay beside him. He was calm, unafraid, and at peace with himself. His passing could only have been better if it were 60 years later. His heart, mind and soul were intact, and the cancer didn't conquer any of that. He beat that part, we all knew that he would never let the cancer spread to his will to live or spread to his spirit. Although he may have still questioned why he was given a shorter time, why he couldn't go on sharing, I am sure as he smiles down on us all from above he can truly realize how his fight with cancer amplified his gifts.

His fight brought out the best in him, and it helped to project him into the lives of everyone he knew. The internet allowed him an entire new medium to reach. He not only touched this community but people all around the world that knew him, that prayed for him, that sent him cards and encouragement. They all know the Brian we know, it's the same one. This is what he was put on this earth for; he showed us all how prayer and good thoughts make a soul indestructible. He showed us that when bad things happen to good people, good people fight back. He gave hope to us all, and showed us that optimism is an invisible lifting hand that can help us all get through the tough times. His death has only made these ideals stronger. Like Gandalf the gray becoming Gandalf the white, Brian is now Brian the white, smiling down on us all stronger than ever and forever in his prime. Our community and the people around the world that know him will hold him in their hearts forever. Even Bungie, the part of Microsoft, said how he will be placed in each and every one of their games in some way, so that his message won't soon be forgotten. Brian did it, he won, the battle is over and his legacy lives on stronger than ever, his spirit admired, his character loved, his gifts appreciated, his love accepted and returned. Its so easy now, he has made it so easy, the pain and the battles we will all go through in life will be made less as we remember that smile, because the memory of it, the image of it, the meaning of that grin, will never lose its power, it will forever warm our hearts in the coldest times. Thank you.


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